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Antennas – How sexy can it get ?!!

Having once sold a client several high-end IP radios, I received a call a month later to tell me that the radios were not up to the job and not achieving the ranges I had informed him the client that they would. Having used these radios extensively, I was confused as I knew that they were the correct solution for the client’s requirement. Upon further chatting, the conversation turned to antennas. He had not procured them through me, so I asked him which antennas he had selected. The conversation went like this:

He replied that he had managed to secure antennas at six pounds each, bargain !

I asked him if he had bought a Ferrari would he put budget tyres on the vehicle?

He replied no.

I said well then why would you put cheap antennas on your high-end radios? There was a reason why they were cheap!

Cheap isn’t always best and that is especially so when it comes to antennas otherwise you have just procured some very expensive door stops !

Antenna Principles - ​What are the basics you should consider when selecting an antenna?

Understanding the basics of radio frequency (RF) antenna principles is the first step to selecting the correct antenna type for your radio system. Heights and gains, omni-directional, directional and lie of the land are all factors that should be evaluated when considering the deployment of your IP and Radio networks. Co-locating the new antenna with existing antennas - will this introduce interference to my network and affect my RF signal and bandwidth? There are also a number of other factors that will play a part in the selection of your type of antenna and the location you will eventually place them.

Antenna Types - What different antenna types are available?

It depends on your requirement. There are a variety of options available from flexible fabric antennas to robust spring mounted to fixed building sector antennas. Selecting the correct antenna that ensure the best RF signal to for your radio system communications link, will depend on the factors taken into consideration and the environment your system will be deployed in.

Antenna Selection - So how sexy can it get?

Well it entirely depends on your budget and your requirement. You will need to plan accordingly and select the right tyres for the right car otherwise you will end up with a solution that is not fit for purpose. Buy cheap, buy twice! So, what about our Ferrari man? He selected the correct antennas we recommended for his requirement and his range was increased by 900%. Win-win for all !

About the author

Gavin Smillie served with the Royal Signals, British Army for 24 years travelling the globe and providing communication links over long distances for both radio and IT networks from cosy operations rooms to dusty and self-contained remote operation rooms, from single link operations to large scale operation rooms during peace and conflict. He has now worked within the commercial communications arena for the last 10 years providing services and products for various Government, Military, Police and commercial markets.

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